Lawsuit Claims Risperdal Responsible for Boy’s Breast Development

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risperdal_linked_male_breastsA lawsuit filed on behalf of a Texas teenager claims the boy developed female breasts after taking the drug Risperdal for 18 months.

The boy, who suffers from mood and behavior disorders, was prescribed Risperdal, made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, KRIS TV in Corpus Christi, Texas reports. “So you have a boy who [is] in junior high school, already worried about his appearance and how people think of him. Then suddenly he’s trying to figure out what’s going on,” the family’s attorney said. “So this kinda piles on to an already not easy adolescence.” The boy must now decide whether to have a double mastectomy to remove the breasts.

The attorney claims that instead of telling doctors about the side effect, Janssen Pharmaceuticals tried to hide it. But Janssen says this isn’t true. In a written statement to KRIS TV, the company said, “[W]e take our obligation to ensure safe and appropriate use of our medications very seriously. We believe this case does not have merit and are defending ourselves against it.”

Risperdal has been the subject of legal battles over the last decade, especially its use in children and adolescents. At issue in a number of lawsuits are the side effects of the medication in boys 10 and older. Study data has shown increased levels of the hormone prolactin in Risperdal users. Prolactin stimulates breast development and milk production in women and some young male Risperdal users have experienced breast growth (gynecomastia). The Wall Street Journal reported that some young men needed plastic surgery to remove the female breasts they developed.

A judge has ordered the case into mediation, but if the two sides can’t reach a deal, the case will go to trial August 15th, KRIS TV reports.